It's not too often that you hear the phrases "perfect timing" and "shoulder surgery" within the same context. But 18-year-old Dennis Enarson has a unique perspective on the life he's led thus far.
Amid his second year as a pro, the La Mesa, CA native was juggling a stacked competition schedule alongside his senior year of high school. And the weekend warrior approach was not working. "The first semester of my senior year, I was missing thirty to forty days. My teachers were telling me that I was gonna fail, and I was having to go in after school and make up all my work," says Enarson. "I missed so much, that they told me I couldn't really miss any days in the second semester, and if I missed one more day, I would not have graduated. So basically, the last two months of school, I went every day," he continues.
Dennis Enarson Vitals
Born: April 19, 1991
Lives: San Diego, CA
Sponsors: Nike 6.0, Rockstar Energy Drink, Demolition Parts, Haro Bikes, Matador, Lunchables
Likes: Classic Rock, Mexican food, street riding.
Dislikes: His turndowns
In 2007, Enarson entered his first pro contest, the AST Dew Tour Dirt Open in Baltimore, MD, and placed third. Later that same year, he won dirt at the Dew Tour Portland stop. In both contests, he was the youngest competitor.
He had some help though. A distraction of sorts; one that kept him off the bike and out of the airports, a bum shoulder. In mid-March of this year, Enarson underwent shoulder surgery. The shoulder had been injured since the summer of 2008, but Enarson fought through the pain and finished out the '08 contest season, then opted for surgery. "That actually helped me graduate because I couldn't ride for my last two and a half months of high school," says Enarson. "It fixed my shoulder and pushed me to graduate high school. It was perfect timing," he adds.
Most of us wouldn't call 10 weeks off the bike in favor of reading Macbeth "Perfect timing," but Dennis Enarson is an exception to the rule. And that exception has catapulted him into the BMX limelight in a very short period of time. Almost overnight, Dennis went from being the unknown 16-year-old doing the tailwhip in the Volume Gypsy catalog to a household name in the BMX world. In 2007, Enarson entered his first pro contest, the AST Dew Tour Dirt Open in Baltimore, MD, and placed third. Later that same year, he won dirt at the Dew Tour Portland stop. In both contests, he was the youngest competitor. Some might call Dennis a BMX prodigy; he simply calls it "Fun."
At the age of ten, Dennis started riding BMX bikes in and around the San Diego area. "I just always had so much fun riding. I rode trails and raced, and when I was about 13, my mom took me to Claremont Skatepark and that's when I literally fell in love with BMX and couldn't stop riding. Then I just rode skateparks and jumps all the time," he says. With the help of his parents and a supportive BMX network in the San Diego area, Dennis' skills began to progress. But whereas most BMXers start out learning to bunnyhop or a wheelie, Dennis utilized somewhat advanced jumping variations as his building blocks. "When I first started, all I would do were no-handed or no-footed tricks, nothings; you know, the basic tricks before I started doing anything crazier. I went from those basics and just worked up," he adds. Again, let's not forget Dennis's unique perspective, allowing for the use of "Nothings" and "Basics" to be used within the same sentence.
From the so-called "Basics," Dennis's riding progressed at an excelled rate across every discipline he encountered. Not only was Dennis progressing at riding skateparks; he was adapting to dirt and street as well, and getting noticed for his well-rounded, zero-attitude approach. Be it triple tailwhips in park comps or feeble grinds down rails in Nike 6.0 Web edits, Dennis was doing everything and doing it well, again pointing his finger at fun as the impetus. "Everything is equally fun to me. I think it would suck going to a spot with a crew of dudes and thinking that I can't ride it. That's my main inspiration to ride everything," he says.
But it's not all fun and games for this seemingly unstoppable, fun-loving BMX prodigy with a laundry list of sponsors that includes Haro Bikes, Demolition Parts, Matador, Rockstar, Nike 6.0 and Lunchables. For starters, Dennis doesn't like his turndowns. "I've been doing them for four years and I still don't like how I do them. I can never get them where I want. That's my new goal after high school; learning good turndowns," he says. Well, actually, in the course of my interview with Dennis, that was maybe the only negative thing he mentioned. And it wasn't a diss or a gripe with BMX at large or any of the hassles that comes with being a professional BMXer. It was a personal gripe with himself, for a trick that he's not fully satisfied with.
Did I also mention that Dennis is as grounded as they come? Despite being thrust into the BMX limelight at a young age, despite being a homeowner at age 17, and despite the fact that he's logged in a healthy amount of hours in front of the television cameras, Dennis Enarson is a humble, likable and wise beyond his years BMX personality that can pull it all together the second his name is announced at a BMX comp.
How does he handle the pressures? Simple. He harnesses the negatives of anything he encounters and transforms that energy into a positive, from contest jitters ("I think the nerves are kinda good; it keeps you on your toes") to the heat of competition ("Sometimes, people can get a little competitive, but I don't think anyone in BMX should take it too seriously.") Add the skills, that unique perspective and then throw in the fact that Dennis's BMX career has only just begun -- well, it's safe to say that the sky is the limit for Dennis Enarson.
So what's next in line for this winning combination of adaptability, skill and humbleness? "Some sponsor trips, filming for the new Ride video, which we just started last week. The Dew Tour, X Games," says Dennis. "Same old stuff, except that I don't have to go to school on Monday," he adds. "Same old stuff" alongside "Dew Tour and X Games"? I'll attribute that to the unique perspective as well.
Catch Dennis's return to action this coming weekend at the Nike 6.0 BMX Open in Chicago, IL.